TAMPA — With four losses in their past six games, the Lightning are going through their worst stretch of hockey this season. It’s strange to see, given how well they began the season despite not always playing at their best.
“When you’re not winning every single night, you’re pretty thankful that you did a lot of winning prior to this,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And then you’re just going to circle your principles and (understand) why we’ve had success and why we will continue to have success.”
“We will work our way out of this. And as it gets closer to crunch time here in this playoff push, we’ve got to elevate our games because you know all the other teams around us are elevating their game. So it’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves; we’ve got a good hockey team here. We’ll be alright.”
Here are five stats that help explain the current state of the Lightning.
Lightning’s goal differential in the second period over the past six games
Tampa Bay has been outscored 12-2 in the second period over the past six games and has zero goals in the period over the past five contests. That’s amazing. Despite that stretch, the Lightning are still plus-5 in the second period for the season, which shows how good they were in the period before this stretch. More importantly, it shows that teams are getting a better read on the Lightning and making successful adjustments during the first intermission.
Lightning’s record without Andrei Vasilevskiy in net this season
This would suggest the Lightning are a subpar team without their starting goaltender. The truth is that Vasilevskiy has saved the team through too many odd-man rushes and penalty-kill situations, creating a false sense of security for the team when someone else is in net. Curtis McElhinney really only had one bad game in his eight starts. Otherwise, he did a good job of dealing with the same back-end mistakes that Vasilevskiy saw. The difference is he’s just not Vasilevskiy.
Games the Lightning are unbeaten in regulation when leading or tied after two periods
The Lightning are 24-0-2 this season when leading or tied after two periods. That includes a 19-0-0 record when leading after two. They play well with a lead, and even when they do allow a game-tying goal, they are able to respond with a game-winner or at least salvage a point by getting the game to overtime. That’s one of the ultimate signs of a good team. When the Lightning trail after two periods, they are 2-10-0.
Goals from the Lightning’s top eight scorers over the past five games
It’s always good when your big guns are scoring, and the Lightning are suffering from a drought from their top point-getters. Take away the three goals Brayden Point scored over the past three games, and Victor Hedman’s goal Sunday is the only one from the top eight scorers over the past five games. Steven Stamkos has a six-game goalless drought, and Anthony Cirelli hasn’t scored in eight games. The fourth line has carried the team offensively over the past five games, and it’s clear they need help.
Points percentage against Detroit and Columbus
Do the Lightning play down to their competition? The numbers would suggest they do. Tampa Bay is 6-4 against Detroit and Columbus, the bottom two teams in the Central Division. They’ve also lost three of their last five meetings against those teams. That’s compared to .a 750 points percentage against everyone else in their division. This swing was supposed to be an opportunity for the Lightning to pick up points against lesser competition, but instead they’ve struggled. They open this week with two games against Columbus.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
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